As I have been out of grad school for a few months, now I have found that the number killer is boredom. The avoid this, I have tried to keep busy with three jobs, attempts at a social life, and viewing far too many movies with a Blockbuster queue. My adventures have taken me through foreign and classic films, anime, and several TV series (By the war, Prison Break is my new addiction, check it out). I recently tried to catch up on all the Oscar films in order to do an "Oscars in Review" piece for the newspaper I write for. In my research, as I like to call it, I finally came around to a film that was not nominated for anything, Lust, Caution.
This was director Ang Lee's follow up film to Brokeback Mountain. There was a large amount of controversy surrounding the film as it was rate NC-17 for some rather graphic sex scenes. Comically, an R-rated version was released for rental in the states. Lee is not the kind of director to bask in such scenes for the sake of pornography. As he has done in other films, he taps into sexuality in its most violent and graceful. It's a very jarring experience. Actress Wei Tang was truly robbed of an Oscar nomination for this role. I didn't really think Marion Cotillard deserved Best Actress for her role as Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose. Tang deserved a nod and possible win, but an NC-17 film would never be up for the prestigious Oscars, known for avoiding real controversy.
The film's plot was pretty simple. Tang becomes an unlikely spy in China during World War II trying to infiltrate the life of a major leader. But her lust takes over and dissolves her caution against an evil man who is both her love and hatred. SPOILER ALERT: I gotta say, Ang Lee needs to have a happy ending in one of his films. It's become too predictable (like a Martin Scorsese film) to expect everything to south his films. SPOILER END.
If you're okay with the R-rated sex scenes (I know it goes against the principles of art, but I fast forwarded through them), the film is pretty amazing and is the most plot-driven thing Lee has ever done.